From Central America, through Mexico, and finally the United States border, about two hours from the Coachella Valley, it was the final stop in a month-long caravan of migrants who seek asylum in the United States from violence in their country.
Roughly 200 migrants made the journey to Tijuana in hopes for an opportunity to interview for refuge, but that journey was delayed by the U.S. Border and Customs Protection agency that stopped vetting migrants on Sunday at the San Ysidro crossing port.
The U.S. Border and Customs Protection Commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, said in a statement, “We reached capacity at the San Ysidro port of entry for CBP officers to be able to bring persons traveling without appropriate entry documentation.”
However, a spokesperson for CBP said they resumed interviews on Monday, depending on resources and they said some people may have to wait in Mexico while they process each person.
The Executive Director, Karan Kler, for the Coachella Valley Immigration Service & Assistance Inc. said it was unprecedented for a crossing port to reach capacity.
He said CBP as an agency has resources to vet the number of migrants who traveled in the caravan. Kler said, “Between Mexico and the U.S. we have a stretch of land of 1.6 miles that is considered to be a fair treaty land, where we can process them.”
Kler said it is not guaranteed a person will be granted asylum once they have an opportunity to interview with a CBP agent.
“This is not a free ride, you could go to prison, you could be processed,” Kler said. “I do understand that this is not a gat that we are opening for people to come in, but if people come have come to our gates, we do owe them an open window to listen to their story.”
The Department of Justice filed criminal charges on Monday against eleven different people suspected of traveling with the migrant caravan for entering the country illegally.